Human Rights Campaign Condemns Texas House Passage of Discriminatory Anti-Trans Sports Ban

by Wyatt Ronan

The Texas House voted to pass TX HB 25, discriminatory legislation aimed at banning transgender youth from participating in sports alongside their peers. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. A similar prohibition on transgender youth participating in sports has already passed the Senate during each of the 3 previous sessions this year, and HB 25 is also expected to pass quickly. Once the Senate approves TX HB 25, the legislation will head to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk. The Governor has placed an anti-trans sports measure on the agenda for all three special sessions and has publicly stated he will sign the bill.

Similar legislation was considered by the House during the regular legislative session and the first two special sessions. Because passage through the traditional committee of jurisdiction, the House Public Education Committee, could not be assured, this session the bill was routed through the Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies, a committee created by the Texas House Speaker in July expressly to address priority special session bills.

During each of the four sessions this year, the Human Rights Campaign joined coalition partners including the Transgender Equality Network of Texas, Equality Texas, ACLU of Texas, Texas Freedom Network, Lambda Legal, and others to oppose these measures. After HB 25’s House passage, Human Rights Campaign Texas State Director Rebecca Marques said:

“Texas legislators seem to take pride in passing discriminatory bills without any concern for the impact on Texans and the state’s growing negative national reputation. This legislation and the debate around it have already had a negative real life impact on transgender youth, impacting mental health and perpetuating negative stereotypes and discrimination against them. Transgender young people deserve the opportunity to play sports with their friends like any kid. Texas legislators are putting the second-largest LGBTQ+ population in the country at significant health and safety risk.
Radical policies like the anti-transgender sports ban bill that target children for no reason other than to score political points, making the state less safe and desirable for families to live and work, putting businesses in the state at a competitive disadvantage. Rather than focusing on urgent needs for Texans like fixing the fragile, failing electrical grid during three special sessions, the legislature was hellbent on advancing a discriminatory and harmful agenda just to appease their primary base.”

Texas transgender young people like 12-year old Adelyn and 11-year old Libby Gonzales and their families have spoken out against this dangerous legislation, telling their stories and speaking to the harms these bills would pose to them directly if enacted.

In Texas and in states across the country, legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks on transgender youth, laying bare the reality that they are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact. Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident.

Nationwide in 2021, 25 anti-LGBTQ bills having been enacted, including 13 specifically anti-transgender laws across 8 states. More than 280 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced across 33 states this session, including more than 130 specifically anti-transgender bills. Each of these marks has set a new record for anti-equality legislation being introduced and enacted in a single state legislative session since the Human Rights Campaign began tracking legislation.

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

  • More than 150 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that has recently become law in Arkansas.
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

A PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states.

In a 10-swing-state poll, including Texas, conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

  • Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.
  • Idaho was the first state to have passed an anti-trans sports ban to date, and that law was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. As additional bans passed this year, litigation quickly followed. In in July, a West Virginia federal district court issued a preliminary injunction, halting the enforcement of the state’s law which created a ban on transgender girls and women participating in sports consistent with their gender identity, a law that took effect earlier in July.
  • Also in July, an Arkansas federal district court temporarily blocked the discriminatory law that would have denied evidence-based, best-practice, age-appropriate medically necessary care to transgender young people in the state.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

These bills are solutions in search of problems that are driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or Texans’ concerns

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — hateful anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

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